Garden Tomatoes in December


I was very excited to have a garden tomato on my sandwich today for lunch!  This year, we tried (as we have before) to get some tomatoes to ripen in the garage for us to eat during the fall.  We are very excited, because, this year–it worked!

Here, where I live in Oregon, our garden has already succumbed to killing frost.  There is a little Swiss Chard still alive down there, but very little else.  A few herbs have survived in my herb planter box.

In late October, before the killing frost, I picked as many green tomatoes as I could.  I only saved the ones that did not have a bad spot, a bit of blight starting, or any other thing that might make them go bad quickly.

Rob and I tried 2 different methods.  The first method was to wrap each nice green tomato in a white napkin and place them single layer in a box.  We got several good tomatoes from that box over the last few weeks.

The second method was easier.  We simply placed a bunch of green and ripening tomatoes in a cardboard box.  They were mostly Romas and we grabbed the ones that were turning red out of the box as they turned or rotted.  Some were also placed on cookie sheets because we had so many.


By now, on December 10, they are looking pretty sad.  All of the ones that are wrapped, and on cookie sheets are either eaten or rotten.  The quality of the tomatoes is going down.  I have to cut out little spots of the “good” ones, and the texture is a little mushier than when truly fresh.  Clearly, I need to clean out this box as well.  I will get the ones that still look good out of there and either compost the rest of feed them to the pigs.  If you look closely, there are still a few good ones in there as well.  I don’t think that the green ones in there are going to ripen, but I’ll give them a few more days.

In our opinion, our experiment was a huge success.  We have had tomatoes for tacos, sandwiches and salads galore, for about 6-8 weeks after  our garden was finished.  I noticed that the Romas are better keepers and that it didn’t seem to make a difference if we wrapped them or not.  This was a good garden year, and there wasn’t much disease on the tomatoes, which helped, I’m sure.  I know this experiment is pretty well finished, but I sure enjoyed my sandwich today, knowing that the tomato I was eating was from my own garden, and that I haven’t had to buy tomatoes for quite a few weeks into the fall.  It was definitely worth the effort.  Success, any way I look at it!

8 thoughts on “Garden Tomatoes in December”

  1. Neat! We tried growing a long keeper tomato and storing them like you did, but it didn’t work. I think we got too much heat and humidity at the end of the season. But you encourage me to try again next year. Which type of tomato did you have the most success with?


    1. Jane,
      We have also tried in the past with LongKeeper (some success years ago) and some others marked “storage” tomatoes. This year, it was the Roma type tomato, called Ranger, that we had the most success with. The Big Beef stored a while, but melted into a puddle sooner than the Rangers did. We did not even plant for storage in mind, instead, I planted for disease resistance since we’ve had a lot of problems with that 2 years ago. I got the Ranger Roma seeds from Territorial Seeds, in Cottage Grove, Oregon. (We have been there, but it’s a distance, so we ordered them by mail/internet this year.) I love their seeds. I’m pretty sure the Big Beef seeds were from Johnny’s Selected Seeds (New England somewhere–mail order). I love their seeds as well. I tend to buy more from Territorial, though, because they are in Oregon–local for me (2 hours away). I wonder if a lot of it had to do with the exceedingly good growing year we had here. It was the best tomato crop at this house, to date. We’ve been here for around 9 years.

      1. Thanks for the information, Becky! If I had known it was going to stay so warm this year, I would have let my tomato plants go for a couple of months more. We didn’t get a hard frost until November. I think I get those seed catalogs. We grow an heirloom Roma tomato that an old Italian couple gave us the seeds for several years ago. We save the seeds from year to year.


        1. It’s wonderful that you can save your own seeds! I save a few, but buy most of them. I admire people who do save their own. It’s such a practical skill to have.

  2. Many years ago, I was complaining to my grandmother how we still had so many green, cherry tomatoes and that it saddened me that we wouldn’t get to eat them. She told me to simply put them in brown paper bags in a closet and let them ripen that way. It worked great! We had fresh tomatoes for weeks after we would have otherwise. 🙂

  3. Hi Becky, We’ve had a few bad seasons with tomatoes. Not many seem to grow and few ripen. I’m hoping for a better year this year. There’s nothing like a home grown tomato. They are so rich in flavour.

    1. Wendy,
      It was so bad a few years ago that I only canned 6 quarts from around 75 or 100 plants. They caught some blight and all died. Ever since then, my main criteria when I buy seed is to look for varieties with as much disease resistance as I can get. It is working much better for me.

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